Maria Power writes:
In Marcus Mescher’s The Ethics of Encounter, we have an excellent example of how Francis’s teachings should be put into practice….
In five substantive chapters, he guides us through the practice of the ethics of encounter. He starts, as Catholic social teaching expects, by defining the problem, showing how American society is more divided than it has ever been—in part as a result of the ‘networked self’ resulting from digital technology. The second chapter, in common with Fratelli Tutti, offers a meditation on the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable guides us through the theology of neighbour that underpins the ethic of encounter. Mescher shows us how we can use the religious or prophetic imaginary to discern how to meet Christ in the other. The third chapter takes Gustavo Gutiérrez’s emphasis on friendship as its basis because ‘Gutiérrez’s emphasis on friendship provides a practical framework for assessing the moral demands of solidarity’ (p. 22). Chapter four deals with the virtues necessary to practice the ethics of encounter. These include courage, mercy, generosity, and humility. The final chapter uses the case study of Father Greg Boyle SJ’s Homeboy Industries to show how individuals and communities can be transformed by encounters which acknowledge the God-given dignity of every human being. Through the use of such a case study we are shown how even those believed to live on the extreme edges of society can be transformed by God’s love.
The Ethics of Encounter is everything writing on Catholic social teaching should be. It is grounded in the gospel, the Magisterium, and the lived experience of the kind of mercy that can truly transform lives. This book provides a method that can, and should be, replicated in other contexts, such as the United Kingdom.